Pakistan jailing traders to combat shortage

Islamabad: Pakistan is having another bad year with regard to pulses, with the staple’s production having dropped by almost 40%. Against its total requirement of around 10 lakh tonnes, its yield is around six lakh tonnes.
This is because of multiple factors, including a disrupted rain pattern and floods sweeping through the river beds where most of the crop is harvested.
Weather is a decisive factor in the production of pulses, as the various types of the crop require different temperatures and have varying levels of sensitivity to rain, and different maturity spans. With the weather turning erratic, pulses take the biggest hit compared to other crops. Another factor for the lower production is farmers’ shift towards high-value crops, which has left the country with a deficit of pulses and led to higher prices.
This is precisely what has happened this year. And the prices of almost all pulses – lintel, gram, moong and maash – have risen 30-35% over the last three months. And since most of the pulses imports are restricted to Karachi or urban Sindh because of high freight charges for upcountry transport, Pakistani Punjab is facing the major brunt of the shortage.
The district administrations are raiding small shops that are violating the official rate list – which has lost relevance because of rising prices – and arresting shopkeepers. The campaign is gaining momentum and the reaction from the retailers is heating up as well.